Thank you, Mr. President, and congratulations, High Commissioner, on your first annual report.
The broad range of human rights concerns you have identified is a sobering reminder of the challenges faced in all regions of the world and the heavy responsibility of the Human Rights Council to ensure these concerns are adequately addressed.
We support your call for the immediate release of women’s human rights defenders subject to arbitrary detention and torture in Saudi Arabia, and we commend the 36 states who joined the statement led by Iceland, calling for their release and condemning the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. It is unfortunate that the Council’s host country, Switzerland, failed to add its voice in support of human rights defenders and others facing arbitrary detention and torture at the hands of a State member of this Council. We look forward to the report at the June session of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions on her Khashoggi inquiry.
We urge the Council to put in place regular monitoring of the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia until there is accountability for the death of Khashoggi, the release of all those wrongfully detained, and genuine reforms.
We share your concerns, High Commissioner, at the “wide patterns of enforced disappearances and arbitrary detentions” in China’s Xinjiang region, and support your call for full access to ensure an independent assessment of the situation. The Council also needs to be seized of the matter, and we urge States to have the courage of their convictions and take collective action at this session to ensure monitoring of the situation in Xinjiang and reporting to the Council. Given the scale of the violations, failure to do so would be a stain on the Council’s credibility. China should be held to the same international standards as everyone else.
We welcome your attention to the thousands of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, with only one case subject to investigation and prosecution. This highlights the impunity that contributes to the rising death toll. The threats against Special Procedures, human rights defenders and journalists further underscores the need for the Council to address the situation, and initiate an inquiry into the killings as a matter of urgency.
Your independent reporting, including on Nicaragua and Kashmir, has rightly elevated attention to these serious situations, which the Council should address.
We look forward to working with you and your Office, High Commissioner, and with States at the Human Rights Council to address the many challenges that lie ahead.